Leeds Ponds property hearing extended to at least July

Leeds Ponds property hearing extended to at least July
Frank Picininni speaks to the Plandome Manor Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday, June 22. (Photo by Brandon Duffy)

The Plandome Manor Board of Board of Zoning Appeals will continue a public hearing to consider issuing a permit for a developer to place 500 cubic yards of site fill on a property that sits on Leeds Pond. 

The five-person board closed the hearing June 15 and reserved a decision on the matter until at least July 20. The record remains open at this time.

Opponents of the application submitted by 1362 Plandome Road LLC, primarily led by attorney Christopher Murray, who is representing adjacent neighbors at 1 Stonytown Road, have two weeks to review any documents with the application and submit any written correspondence they may find necessary. 1362 Plandome also has two weeks following that to respond as well.

Village code allows up to 50 cubic yards of site fill, according to the code. 

Ahead of the June 15 meeting, an online petition was started that opposed the application. The petition calls upon the village, North Hempstead – which owns the pond – Nassau County and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to preserve and protect the health of the pond.

Leeds Pond is part of Nassau County’s 35-acre Leeds Pond Preserve, which overlooks Manhasset Bay. It is approximately 21.4 acres in size with a tributary watershed area of approximately 2.275 acres. 

Plandome Manor Mayor Barbara Donno said the “Save Leeds Pond” petition and accompanying flier disseminated to residents contained inaccurate and misleading information. 

Donno said the application itself has nothing to do with Leeds Pond and is entirely about the property at 1362 Plandome Road. The mayor stressed that the project has full approval from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, which is the authoritative body on wetlands like Leeds Pond.

“All necessary precautions and measures have been taken to adhere to the guidelines and regulations set forth by the DEC, ensuring the environmental sustainability and integrity of the area,” Donno wrote in a letter posted to the village website. 

Donno emphasized the inaccuracy of the information provided in the petition and flier and asked residents who have questions on any applications to come to the village.

“I urge you to disregard these documents and trust the expertise of the relevant authorities who have ensured that all appropriate protocols are followed,” Donno said.

John Wagner, attorney for the applicants, also submitted to the board Thursday night the letter issuing a permit from the DEC, an order of consent from the DEC and a restoration plan as exhibits during the hearing. Wagner added the reason for 500 cubic yards of fill is so the future homeowners’ two kids can play in the backyard

Civil engineer for the application, Michael Rant, also presented to the board a different plan to regrade the backyard, which would then require only 300 cubic yards of fill.

Board Chairman Mario Harris also confirmed during the hearing the documents submitted by Wagner were verified by Building Inspector Edward Butt. 

Murray said Thursday night that Leeds Pond has already been harmed by neighboring residents who have elevated their backyards and removed trees and bushes.

Additional opponents against the application include Frank Picininni of Spadefoot Design and Construction, Chris Gobler, chair of coastal ecology and conservation at Stony Brook University and Bret Bennington, a geology professor at Hofstra University. 

Each spoke against the application on the grounds of the apparent damage the pond and reserve have sustained and adding more discharge to the waters that contain chemicals. 

Picininni is the president of Spadefoot, which works to restore ecosystems and is working alongside the Science Museum of Long Island–located on the pond–to restore the preserve. 

“This is a matter for the local board to decide,” Picininni said after handing each board member a packet highlighting damage to the pond. “It really is death by 1,000 cuts.”

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